Are You Charging What You Are Worth?

I know we can’t place a value on our lives – after all life is priceless, but we can place a value on our time and what we do with it.   If your best friend asks you to run an errand on their behalf and you have a job to complete, which one will you rather pay attention to?  Will you prefer to delegate the errand and pay attention to your work or run the errand for friendship’s sake?

The way we view and use our time is an indication of what we think our time is worth.  I’m privileged to work with a number of wonderful people via Business First Steps with great business ideas.  I noticed that some are sceptical to charge a reasonable price for their products and services, even though they put a lot of time and effort into it.

Business profit concept

The first thing you need to decide if you want to start a business is, are you are going to be a profit or non-profit making organisation?   A non-profit organisation means you inject proceeds from the business back into the business.

If you want to earn profit from your business then stop operating like a social enterprise or not-for-profit organisation.  If your business is not breaking even but you spend endless hours trying to meet customers’ demand, then you need to go back to the drawing board and revisit your operation, prices and business values.

Below are some questions to help you with your pricing strategy:

  • What are my business values?
  • What is the objective of my business, product or service?
  • What are my competitors charging?
  • What pricing strategy do I want to employ?
  • Do I want to undercut them, match them or charge much more and offer a better service?
  • How much time do I invest in each order?
  • What is the cost of sales?
  • What other variable costs do I have to take account of?
  • How much do I want to earn per hour?
  • What are my personal expenses and how much do I need each month?
  • How much can I earn from my business each month and still pay business expenses including taxes?
  • What are my monthly fixed costs?
  • What is my profit margin on each product/service?

The list is not exhaustive but you can use it as a starting point to develop your prices.  If your product is of low value, you must take into consideration that you need to sell more to make a profit.  If you are a sole trader do you have the capacity to produce the quantity required? Will you need more resources and more staff?  If you take on premises, can your business sustain the costs?

It can be quite tricky to price services, a lot of people tend to use the ‘pay per hour’ model i.e. they charge based on the number of hours it takes them to complete a job.  So if they charge £25 per hour and each job takes 4 hours to complete that means they charge £100 per job.  Watch out! If you charge £1000 for your service and you do not get a single client in 4 months, you need to revisit the plan.

These are part of the steps you need to take to run a viable business that brings you joy and credits your account with a monthly income too. Get your pricing and product offering right then you are on your way to enjoy the proceeds from a successful business.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Need help with your pricing strategy? Why not get the eBook ‘Pricing Your Service for Maximum Profit’ and checklist via our Resource page. At Business First Steps, we help you bring your business idea to life and support you through the early stages of your business journey.  Visit our website Business First Steps and find us on Facebook.

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Kissing Frogs

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince.” 

Some of us might be familiar with the story of the Frog Prince – the spoilt princess who befriended a frog which eventually turned into a handsome prince…lucky her.  Business can be like that sometimes, you nurture a seemingly insignificant idea, you tend it, nurture it and it eventually turns into your very own ‘beautiful prince or princess.’

Beautiful woman with frog prince

The Mucky Pond is Where to Start

Just consider the thoughts of going into the mucky waters to grab a slimy frog who eventually shares your pillow.  I bet most of us will not sleep a wink, whilst the little creature croaks away.  Your idea could be that slimy frog. You pick it up from a muddy pond and it looks a right state. You do not know what to make of it, but you are determined to get results.  So you clean it, look after it, find a baby sitter when required and think about it often.  Your first frog might even hop away when you aren’t looking and you are forced to visit the mucky pond again.

I meet a variety of people on a daily basis through my business with amazing gifts and talents. We all have mucky frogs (undeveloped talent) in our lives that needs a lot of kisses.  Some of us are quick to realise these gifts, whilst some take a while to grow into theirs.  Whatever stage you are at, I will advise you to take a close look at your slimy frog and pucker up.

Frogs Can Change

In the business world, the same thing happens – you will probably have to kiss a few frogs before it all comes together. For example – you start out in business wanting to sell cakes and you end up training would-be bakers.  What completes any business equation is the ability to start, the grace to be consistent and persistence to get results.  You do not know which one will turn into a frog – so don’t stop kissing.  You might have read my story – how I started my business with copywriting and now I work full time as a business consultant.  Boy, did I kiss some slimy frogs!!!  I still shudder when I think of some of the business mistakes I made. I could have given up (the thought happens often), but I am  determined to make Business First Steps and Business Startup 4 Girls work and haven’t stop kissing frogs since.

So when next you see a business idea covered in slim (hard work), do not disregard the idea, clean it up and see what comes out of it.  Do not stop kissing those frogs and you might even end up with tadpoles (more business) too.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

I am a midwife who births business ideas and dreams through www.businessfirststeps.co.uk.  I can help you bring your idea to life if you are willing to work with me.  I will offer support throughout incubation and when the business contractions start.  I will be by your side cheering you on until you give birth to that dream. Then you can enjoy the accolade when you present your idea to the world.

Join me on Facebook – BusinessFirststeps and Twitter @Business1ststep

Free Promotion for your Business

When I started my business after I was made redundant, I was broke with very little capital to get anything done. One of the things I diligently sought after in those early days was free opportunities to promote my business. This month, I will like to share with you some of the ways I was able to promote my business without breaking the bank.

Article Writing

1156284_innovation raja4uThis was one of the first promotion techniques I learnt when I started my business. Well I cheated a bit as I started as a copywriter and article writing was one of the services I provided. You can use article writing to promote your expertise on a particular subject matter. Distribution of articles to many directories is free, so it might be worth your while to delve into the art of writing. You can write articles for newspapers, magazines and other publications related to your industry. If you can’t do it yourself, why not get someone else to write them for you. Find some tips on how to write good articles here

Blogging

blog-icon-200This is not only good for your business but also a great way to introduce your knowledge and expertise to the world. I recommend blogging to many of my clients who are not sure of where to start with their passion. Even though many profess that they can’t write, I’ve discovered that if you write about your passion it tends to flow naturally. You can always work on your writing style and everything else as you go along. Check out this free blogging course from one of the experts in that field.

Newsletters & Email Marketing

1159730_yell YodesignerI read it in someone’s newsletter recently that some potential customers need to see your message up to 27 times before they buy from you. There you have it, so don’t quit on potential customers after the first phone call or email.  It’s like starting a 5K race and quitting just before you reach the finish line. Your newsletter or email does not have to be huge but it has to be full of useful information that your target market will like to read. Business Next Step can help you with your newsletters  if you need some hand-holding. You can start with a quarterly, bi-monthly or monthly interval, just be consistent.

Collaboration

671413_handshake ngouldThey say “no man is an island.” That is also true in the business world. You need people as much as people need you, do not run your business in isolation. Collaborate with businesses that compliment what you do. If you sell flowers, why not collaborate with a venue decorator. Find a mutual way to reward each other for promoting your businesses. List other business services on your website or newsletter and let them do the same for you.

Social Media

social_media_icons_20Many people turn up their nose at social media for business. I have met some amazing clients and people through social media platforms. I have been invited to speak, run seminars and deliver workshops via social media. If you run a business and do not use social media to promote your business, then you are certainly not making use of the free resources you have at your disposal. All it will cost you is time and effort – but the rewards can be great.

There are other free and affordable ways you can promote your business. Get your thinking cap on and make a list of the techniques you are going to use in June and beyond. Start today, you can do this!!!

Connect with me via Facebook and Twitter and make sure you enjoy your business journey.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – tools that bring ideas to life.

Get Your Umbrella Out!!!

I love writing about my business journey as it reminds me of where and when I started.  When I consider my start-up route, I am also reminded of the need to ensure our mindsets are in the right gear to start and run successful businesses.

I shared this quote by Dolly Parton on my status update recently – “There is no rainbow without rain”.

That has now become my favourite quote. When we write our business plans, we expect most if not all conditions to be favourable. We expect sunshine every day and exclude ‘the element of risk’ which is an important factor in business engagement.  Well, you can’t be more risk-adverse than I used to be.  I carry an umbrella in my handbag 365 days a year just in case it might rain even when the temperature hits late 20s.

Well the truth is,  the road to business success is never a straightforward one – like the British weather actually. As I write this blog, I reflect on how the weather has been quite unpredictable over the past few weeks. I went into a shop recently when it was sunny and came out in need of cover from the rain. Can’t seem to know how to dress the kids for school, should we have jumpers, coats or just t-shirts? A business works the same way, you might not get sunshine every day, but when you do it is so beautiful and rewarding.

My advice to anyone starting or running a business is ‘be prepared for all kinds of weather.’  To avoid frustration and despair, know that business does not flow in a straight line. There will be dips and curves, ups and downs, summer and winter. Just be sure you have got a good and viable business idea in your hands.  The good news is, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it.   Be conversant with your business seasons, maximise the summer months and store away for winter. It’ll make it much easier to deal with successes and failures and get through every time.

So get your umbrella and wellies out and be ready to dance in the rain.  Don’t let adverse conditions deter you from enjoying your business journey.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – tools that bring ideas to life.

8 Questions to ask your Business Idea

Its official…2013 is the year of the entrepreneur. If no one else is declaring it, I am. I meet so many people courtesy of my job who are no longer satisfied with just answering to their line manager or following a strict job description. More people want to express themselves doing what they love and enjoy.

So if you are thinking of taking a step towards maximizing your passion or start a business. I have got a few questions you should ask your idea?

bigstock-A-thinking-man-in-the-center-o-28807037

 1. Does your product or service add value?
More people can now see beyond a good idea. If you want to compete with others in the marketplace, then you will need more than nice packaging and a good website. Your product or service should add value to the lives of your target market and readily make a difference once they make a purchase.

 2. Who will buy your product or service?
I made this mistake a few times when I started out in business. As soon as I thought of a good idea, I plunged it right on my website. When people did not buy the service, I got a hump. What I failed to see then was that a good business idea in my eye won’t translate to sales if my target market don’t need it. Take time to discover your target market and their needs. Then develop products and services that meet their specific needs – you will have a better chance of making a sale.

 3. Is your industry a saturated market?
If you are considering a product or service in a highly saturated market, you should be ready to fight to survive. You will also need more that a Unique Selling Point as you can be sure as day that as soon as you launch your idea, someone is going to be on your heel. So analyse your product’s benefits in-depth and find specific and unusual ways to make it stand out.

4. Is there a rise or decline in demand for your product or service?
Is there really any point in bringing to the market a product that is on the decline? If your idea has been waiting on the back burner for many years, is now the time to finally ‘Bring it to Life’? I believe in passion but passion and good business sense go hand in hand. You might need to go back to the drawing board and redesign or redefine your products or services.

5. How will technology advancement or other factors affect your business?
Sadly many businesses have gone into administration recently, I am sure they tried to move with the times but some are not just fast-paced enough to catch up. With the speed of technology development nowadays, the adage “you snooze, you lose” is so appropriate. How long can your products/services last on the market before something new comes along? What are your plans to keep up demands for products or services? Good questions to ask yourself if you are considering a long-term business.

6. Is there room for development or modification to meet new demands?
If you are designing a product or service, you should factor in room for improvement. In five years time, what modifications can you add to your products or what further benefits can your services provide? Have you got another version/better specification model to follow? It is important that you design your products/services with the future in mind so you can keep supplying those who need what you offer.

 7. What are the established businesses in your proposed market doing?
Carry out some research to find out what the big players in your industry have got up their sleeves. What is their next business step, what products do they have in the pipeline? Preempt their next moves and brainstorm their ideas to see if they can give birth to new ideas for your business?

This is totally random but I love this post on Entrepreneur.com ‘The secret of what makes a product go viral’ 

 8. How do you see your product or service developing in the next five years?
Even though most business owners would say they have a five-year plan, the plan can only be at the very best – a plan. If all the variables remain constant, maybe then maybe we can achieve our five years goals. You should always consider various options for your business development at any given time including an exit strategy.

Maybe now is the time to get your business idea or product development off the back-burner and start taking actions to bring it to market. But before you sign the office lease, send out the new product flyers and order the equipment, in-depth market research can never go amiss before a start-up/new development. Consider your options, analyse your answers, if you need to change your game plan, by all means do that but do not stand on the sideline and watch the world go by.

Get a bit of the action! The world is waiting for your business idea to blossom.

Need help discovering your passion, developing your idea, setting up your own business or brainstorming roadblocks in your existing business? Then contact me and let’s explore your options together.

I wish you good success.
Temi Koleowo

How Do You Measure Success?

I delivered a workshop at a Youth Entrepreneur Conference on the 24th of February 2013 on “How to Bring your Business Idea to Life”. It was a great conference with so much “Can-Do” energy. I was intrigued by a question a young man asked me. He asked “what is your definition of success?”

1415055_business_graph sheela2010

That question got me thinking for a while about what success truly is. Most of us want the finer things in life – in varying quantities. Are we willing to sacrifice that inner deep emotional need for fulfilment for these other things money can buy? My answer to this young man was “success means different things to different people”.  To some of us helping more people however we can is our definition of success. The good news is money is normally a by-product of doing what you love – if done the right way. Even Sir Richard Branson testifies to this.

Monetary Value

Some people measure success by monetary values, how much money we have in the bank or coming into our businesses? To some, whether things work out outside of the process of making money doesn’t matter. Money is a defence according to the bible so it’s therefore a necessity for daily life. If money is the true measurement of success, why do some rich people still end up miserable? This is a good indication that money is not the only measurement of success.

Adding Value

Like me, some people’s success is linked to the number of people we can help or add value to their lives. This can be through the products or services that we sell. It can also be the assistance we render through compassion for others, charitable deeds, social enterprise or a community group.  It can also be through motivating, inspiring, teaching or uplifting others.  In the process of adding value to the lives of others, the life of the giver is also enriched.

Fulfilment

1181306_jumping_couple_2 lusiFulfilment in doing what they love and enjoy is all that matters to some people. They may have a job that pays the bills, but their spare time is spent doing what they truly enjoy with no cognition of time, money or effort. To this group of people finding fulfilment is their own definition of success. At Business First Steps we believe what you do should be a lifestyle and not a chore.

Define Your Success Parameters

As business owners or start-up it is important that we set the right objectives for starting and developing a business from the onset. You do not want to get halfway through your business journey and throw in the towel because you aren’t fulfilled. The problem when things fail in most cases is not just the business model, but also unrealistic expectations, incorrect definition and measurement of success.

Knowing what you expect from your business when you start out will give you a good way of gauging your progress and success. For example, your aim could be to help 10 women set and achieve their short-term goals in one year.  This can be done voluntarily or for a fee.  The measurement of success is not how much money you make in the process, but how many women actually fulfil their short-term goals in a year.

The definition of success is determined by you. So spend some time questioning yourself to find out what you use to measure success in all your endeavours.  Once you have got your answers set goals, take action and aim for the sky.

What does success mean to you? How do you quantify success in your life?  I will love to hear from you so please comment below.

Your Partner in Business

Temi Koleowo

We love to help people define their passion and do what they love and enjoy. If you are still searching then get in touch and let’s dig and discover together. Business First Steps

Photo by Lusi & Sheela2010 sxc.hu

Market Your Business With Knowledge

I was quite disturbed to read about a well-known supposedly Marketing Guru whose company was fleecing people for money. It reminded me of when I started out in business and was so eager for information. I was buying into so many empty promises of what will catapult my business to the next level. Little did I know that there is hardly a miracle marketing technique anywhere?

1159730_yell YodesignerI learnt after a few hard knocks that if you do not work on your business putting the right foundation in place, no matter the marketing strategy you engage in, you will fall flat on your face. I strongly believe that businesses that succeed work through a step by step marketing strategy. This is not to say marketing strategies do not work, but you need to know your business and how people respond to what you offer. I dare say that not all businesses will grow via social media. For some it’s the interaction with their customers face to face that will grow their businesses.

The following tips are some of the things you should be aware of to help you choose the right marketing strategy for your business:

Core Values – Understand your core values and how it translates into your business. What is important to you? Is it financial gain, longevity in business, popularity, your integrity or customer satisfaction? When you understand what your core values are, it will be easy for you to project it through your business marketing materials and strategies.

What Do You Sell? – Strange as it might sound, there are many businesses that are not clear about their aim and objectives and what they offer. That was me in times past; I was trying to do so much without defined products or services. It is confusing to say the least to those you are targeting if you don’t have well defined products or services. Are you a party planner/caterer or are you a graphic designer/copywriter. Whether you offer two, three or five services, make it clear through your website, marketing materials and even your elevator pitch.

Who Are Your Customers? – Who are the people that will buy your products? Who are you targeting? Young, Old, Rich, Middle Class, Students, Women, Mothers, Men etc? When you started out, who were you going to sell to? Keep that in mind when you develop your marketing plan. Where can you find them, what do they read, what else do they buy that can compliment your products? Some businesses can only serve a local area except they expand their service offerings. Let’s say you run a salon, except people come to your store, you can’t get much patronage. But if you now offer hair products online, use YouTube tutorials etc, then you can increase your target market by a wide margin.

What Is Your Budget? I feel on my face with this one over and over again until I made some realisticand hard decisions. So many people will offer you services that promise to grow your business miraculously. You need to align every proposal with your business aims, objectives and budget. How much have you put aside for marketing this year? Having this information to hand will prevent you from being swayed by marketing gimmicks.

21411_cash_notes_3 andyculpinLook Beyond the Money – I have had some simple engagements that have opened so many doors to great relationships and business opportunities. Whilst some have not gone beyond the single task, event/meeting. You will know a good opportunity when you see one. Do not be guided by money alone but let the prospects of what is to come help you make informed decisions. Attend networking events to build relationships and not just to sell your products or services. Offer your target market free offers so they can learn to trust you and you can build relationships with them too.

The Time Factor – How much time can you dedicate to your marketing strategies?  Can you afford to spend two hours a week listening to an audio training on marketing strategies?  If you can’t, then it is futile to purchase a plan you can’t commit to.  I love what someone suggested on Facebook – find 30 minutes a day/week and dedicate that time to building your business through one marketing effort at a time.  The thought of a huge marketing plan can be overwhelming. If you can update your social media status once a week start with that and don’t beat yourself down if you falter. Just try a bit more next time and before you know it, it becomes second nature. Remember Consistency is the key to organic business growth.

I could go about my marketing mistakes and what I have learnt that actually works. Believe me when I say I have tried quite a few, and quite ashamed of my gullibility in some cases.  But hey you learn in business and grow.  Now it is not so easy to get my hard-earned cash through hocus-pocus marketing strategies.

Buyers Beware!  Before you commit to another fomular, make sure you maximise the opportunities that present themselves to you at no cost.

I’ll love to hear from you – If you have got some marketing stories or tips you will like to share, please comment below.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

If you need help in developing your products or services or even develop a Sales Funnel, there is nothing a Brainstorming session can’t cure. Get in touch and let’s give your business a boost.